Valley Green Car Feud: Tesla vs. Fisker Going to Arbitration

The brawl between Telsa and Fisker Automotive, the two electric-car startups backed by Silicon Valley’s most well-known cleantech VCs, is heading to arbitration, according to San Mateo court records (hat tip CNET). The court records say that Fisker’s request to take the issue to arbitration has been granted, and CNET quotes a statement from Fisker founder Henrik Fisker that says his company is “extremely pleased” with the court’s decision.

You should bet Fisker is. Fisker had been looking to avoid a time-consuming and costly lawsuit, after Tesla accused Henrik Fisker and Fisker’s COO, Bernhard Koehler, of entering into a $875,000 design contract with Tesla and then walking away with trade secrets and launching their own competing car. Tesla had hired the Fisker team to do some design work for the body of Tesla’s sedan, code-named White Star.

Fights among competitors in the Valley’s very small world aren’t uncommon, but Tesla and Fisker are backed by competing venture firms. The roots of these opposing teams stretch way back, to before the dot-com days. And the whole green, do-gooder image doesn’t stand up so well in the face of very public feuds.

In May Fisker said it would file for arbitration in an attempt to derail the suit. Fisker is also supposedly looking to move the case to Orange County, but we haven’t heard an update on that. According to the San Mateo court record, there’s a case management conference scheduled for late August. We’ll watch the court case docket and let you know what’s up next.

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